December 10, 2005

Die, Tookie, die!

The best argument for the death penalty is the one you almost never hear: we need an ultimate deterrent against criminals who already facing close to life in prison to dissuade them from rationally deciding that it's in their self-interest to kill witnesses to their crimes, such as the victims of their robberies. As Robert Stacy McCain points out in FrontPage, the latest liberal cause celebre, Tookie Williams, murdered four people in cold-blood in two separate robberies in 1979 to get rid of witnesses:

One accomplice told police: "I asked Tookie, I said, 'What you do?' He say, 'I killed him,' like that. And I say, 'Why you kill him?' He say, uh, 'So it wouldn't be no evidence.'" Williams later laughed as he bragged about the gurgling noise the dying clerk made: "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him."

Among his other contributions to society, Tookie is the co-founder of the Crips.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Tis the season for giving

Perhaps the leading enemy of free speech in America is now the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Of course, the SPLC long ago eradicated the last, faintest vestiges of poverty, southern or otherwise, in the lifestyle of founder Morris Dees, who is a member of the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame.

That the SPLC is a festering sore on the American body politic has long been known to anyone who cares to spend a half hour Googling. Here's just part of a revealing statement by Jim Tharpe, the Deputy Metro Editor of the Atlanta Constitution, which he made during a Harvard panel discussion about his experience editing a massive Pulitzer-finalist investigative series on the Southern Poverty Law Center during his days at the Montgomery Advertiser:

I’d never done any reporting on nonprofits, I thought they were all good guys, they were mom-and-pop, bake-sale, raise-money-for-the-local-fire-department type operations. I had no idea how sophisticated they were, how much money they raised, and how little access you have to them as a reporter, some of which has already been covered here.

Our series was published in 1995 after three years of very brutal research under the threat of lawsuit the entire time.

Our findings were essentially these:

The [Southern Poverty Law] center was building up a huge surplus. It was 50-something million at that time; it’s now approaching 100 million [it's now over $150 million in net assets], but they’ve never spent more than 31 percent of the money they were bringing in on programs, and sometimes they spent as little as 18 percent. Most nonprofits spend about 75 percent on programs.

A sampling of their donors showed that they had no idea of the center’s wealth. The charity watchdog groups, the few that are in existence, had consistently criticized the center, even though nobody had reported that.

There was a problem with black employees at what was the nation’s richest civil rights organization; there were no blacks in the top management positions. Twelve out of the 13 black current and former employees we contacted cited racism at the center, which was a shocker to me. As of 1995, the center had hired only two black attorneys in its entire history...

They hired an attorney who began first by threatening me, then my editor, and then the publisher. "And you better be careful of the questions you ask and the stories you come up with," and they would cite the libel law to us. So we were under threat of lawsuit for two years, basically, during the research phase of the series...

We published the series over eight days in 1994, and it had very little effect, actually. I think the center now raises more money than it ever has. [Laughter]

The story really didn’t get out of Montgomery and that’s a real problem. The center’s donors are not in Montgomery; the center’s donors are in the Northeast and on the West Coast. So the story pretty much was contained in Montgomery where it got a shrug-of-the-shoulders reaction. [More, much more]

The SPLC continues to concoct bogeymen to demonize in pursuit of extracting donations from gullible elderly liberals. In recent years, Dees's operation has come to resemble Mel Brooks's title for a proposed sequel to his Star Wars' parody "Spaceballs:"

"Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money"

After a liberal scion to a large fortune promised $100 million to the Sierra Club if it ignored the impact of immigration on the American environment, Dees's sensitive nose for piles of of cash led him to trash true environmentalists like former three-time Democratic governor of Colorado Richard Lamm.

And, of course, the SPLC smears and me. Amusingly, its attacks on me show how bizarrely flexible Dees's definitions of "Southern" "Poverty" and "Law" have become. The SPLC has teamed up with a group of transsexuals who are out to wreck the careers of anybody who has ever had a kind word for Northwestern U. psychology professor J. Michael Bailey!

Now, D.A. King on's blog has pointed out that the charity vetting organization Charity Navigator gives the SPLC only one star out of four. By way of comparison, the notoriously corrupt and ineffectual NAACP gets two stars. The National Council of La Raza ("The Race") gets four stars.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A question from a reader

I read a great variety of sites but I have yet to find a general news site that I could recommend to people who can use the internet but still rely on the MainStream Media out of habit. I used to look at Google news but have lately been disappointed in it. Drudge sometimes has some punch but is not what I want to recommend as a liberation from MSM.

Any suggestions?

I probably spend more time reading the New York Times that any other news source. Sure, it's biased, but I enjoy playing the game of spotting-the-fallacy.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Be afraid, be very afraid

From Fast Company, via Marginal Revolution:

Levitt and Dubner have spun their tales of rigged sumo matches and inner-city crack dealers everywhere from CNN to The Charlie Rose Show to The 700 Club. ABC just signed the pair to a one-year deal for recurring spots on Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Nightline, including backing for their own documentaries.

Suzanne Gluck, Levitt and Dubner's agent, says Freakonomics hasn't just inspired other numbers books. "People are pitching everything from 'The Medical Freakonomics' to 'The Freakonomics of Parenting,' " she says. "They're using freakonomics as a code word for unconventional wisdom."

Conventional wisdom says there's more to come. Dubner says, "We're working on another book: 'Superfreakonomics.' "

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 9, 2005

Racial Gestalt: Believing Is Seeing

Here's a picture of Rob Schneider, the low rent comic actor, formerly of Saturday Night Live, who starred in "Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo" and has played in a lot of his friend Adam Sandler's hit movies. He's Jewish, right? Nobody ever had any doubts about it.

And, he is Jewish ..., but only on his father's side.

Schneider's mother, I just found out after 15 years of assuming he is the standard-issue 100% Jewish comedian, is one half Filipino. Take a look at his picture again. Doesn't it suddenly snap into focus that he's obviously one quarter Filipino?

This snapping into focus can happen when looking at people who turn out to have a more complex racial background than you assumed. I call this "racial gestalt," after the old trick picture that gestalt therapists use to show people that believing is seeing.

Schneider persuasively played a native Hawaiian in the the Adam Sandler - Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Fifty First Dates," and I was so convinced that he was 100% Jewish that I thought to myself, boy, he's actually a better actor than I always thought.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The "Memoirs of a Geisha" casting controversy in historical perspective

The same sort of sophisticates who tell you "Race Does Not Exist!" are currently sniping at the new movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" for casting Chinese rather than Japanese actresses in the three lead roles. After all, any worldly person can tell Chinese from Japanese people on sight, right?

Well, sort of ... When I was at UCLA and spent a lot of time studying coeds, I could probably correctly guess East Asian girls' nationalities over 50% of the time but not quite 90% of the time. I doubt if I'd come close to that accuracy today.

This question of how to tell Japanese from Chinese once came to national prominence. The Dec. 22, 1941 issue of Life Magazine carried a pictorial article entitled "How to Tell [Japanese] from Chinese: Angry Citizens Victimize Allies with Emotional Outburst at Enemy:"

In the first discharge of emotion touched off by the the Japanese assault on their nation, U.S. citizens have been displaying a distressing ignorance in the delicate question of how to tell a Chinese from a [Japanese]. Innocent victims in cities all over the country are many of the 75,000 U.S. Chinese, whose homeland is our staunch ally... To dispel some of this confusion, LIFE here adduces a rule-of-thumb from the anthropometric conformations that distinguish friendly Chinese from enemy alien Japanese.

Personally, I think LIFE would have better advised their readers not to engage in criminal assaults on anybody. But, hey, that's just me.

It was an emotional time, only days after the Japanese government had massacred 3,000 Americans. In contrast, after Arab Muslim terrorists massacred 3.000 Americans on 9/11, the U.S. government deliberated for 18 months, and then, with the at least tacit approval of most of the media, invaded an Arab Muslim country that didn't have anything to do with 9/11! So, perhaps in our age of political correctness, we aren't so much more sophisticated than in 1941, and we may well be stupider.

Anyway, the Life article includes some fascinating, if rather hopeless-sounding, tips on how to accurately distinguish Chinese (and Filipinos) from Japanese. (My impression is, by the way, that Filipino-Americans were, per capita, the most violent toward Japanese-Americans in the weeks following Pearl Harbor and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.)

The physical descriptions of Japanese and Chinese in Life magazine are in line with two habits of Time-Life founder Henry Luce. He insisted on having his journalists describe people he liked as physical paragons (according to William F. Buckley, President Eisenhower was always described in Time or Life as "tall, straight-backed, and graying" while Eisenhower's rivals were "short, squat, and nose-picking"). And Luce, who was born in China to a Presbyterian missionary family, admired the Chinese, especially Chiang Kai-shek's regime, and loathed the Japanese who invaded China. The Life article goes on:

To physical anthropologists, devoted debunkers of race myths, the difference between Chinese and [Japanese] is measurable in millimeters. Both are related to the Eskimo and North American Indian. The modern [Japanese] is the descendant of Mongoloids who invaded the Japanese archipelago back in the mists of prehistory, and of the native aborigines who possessed the islands before them [the Ainu]. Physical anthropology, in consequence, finds [Japanese] and Chinese as closely related as Germans and English. It can, however, set apart the special types of each national group.

The typical Northern Chinese, represented by Ong Wen-hao, Chunking's Minister of Economic Affairs [see picture, top], is relatively tall and slenderly built. His complexion is parchment yellow, his face long and delicately boned, his nose more finely bridged. [Translation: Henry Luce likes.] Representative of the Japanese people as a whole is Premier and General Hideki Tojo [see picture, below], who betrays aboriginal antecedents in a squat, long-torsoed build, a broader, more massively boned head and face, flat, often pug, nose, yellow-ocher skin and heavier beard. [Henry Luce no likes.] From this average type, aristocratic [Japanese], who claim kinship ot the Imperial Household, diverge sharply. They are proud to approximate the patrician lines of the Northern Chinese.

Captions to pictures included:

Chinese public servant, Ong Wen-hao, is representative of Northern Chinese anthropological group with long, fine-boned face and scant beard. Epicanthic fold of skin above eyelid is found in 85% of Chinese. Southern Chinese have round, broad faces, not as massively boned as the Japanese. Except that their skin is darker, this description fits Filipinos who are often mistaken for [Japanese]. Chinese sometimes pass for Europeans; but [Japanese] more often approach Western types.

I particularly enjoyed this caption, with its appeal to cultural rather than physical diversity:

Japanese warrior, General Hideki Tojo, current Premier, is a Samurai, closer to type of humble [ Japanese] than highbred relatives of Imperial Household. Typical are his heavy beard, massive cheek and jaw bones. Peasant [ Japanese] is squat Mongoloid, with flat, blob nose. An often sounder clue is facial expression, shaped by cultural, not anthropological, factors. Chinese wear rational calm of tolerant realists. [Japanese], like General Tojo, show humorless intensity of ruthless mystics. [Emphasis mine.]

We are repeatedly assured these days that an exclusive academic focus on cultural rather than biological differences among people is necessary to prevent group animosity, although the historical record (e.g., the extermination of "kulaks" in the Ukraine) should raise severe questions about this contemporary consensus.

In reality, human beings are awfully creative at coming up with reasons to resent other human beings. And there's little evidence to suggest that telling people that other people aren't born that way induces greater tolerance. "You mean, they aren't born that way, but they choose to be so annoying? Then, they're evil Let's get 'em!" is a common human response to modern "progressive" theories of cultural determinism.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 8, 2005

Why the French can't test ethnic quotas in only one university:

Purported tough guy French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has long advocated introducing American-style affirmative action to help out Muslims. He now plans to try it in one university. A reader writes:

If only one university in France decides to test affirmative action, the results will not be meaningful to those considering a nationwide program. This is because the one school testing affirmative action would only have to lower its standards slightly and gain access to its entire region's pool of minorities who are just a little below the cutoff. So the program will appear to be a success since the minorities admitted would only be slightly less intelligent than the white Frenchmen.

If every university in the country institutes affirmative action, then those minorities who are only slightly below normal admissions standards would be spread so thin among the different universities that standards would have to be lowered much more in order to increase minority representation appreciably everywhere.

Right. This is a near universal misconception about how affirmative action should work. Everybody assumes that they would be the only college in the universe to use affirmative action, so the impact wouldn't that bad. But the essential problem is a finite supply of smart individuals from the privileged group.

In the end all this may not matter. As I understand it, most French universities typically have low standards of admissions, but the exams are so difficult that dumber students are weeded out in very large numbers in the first two years.

That's how the University of California system worked before Proposition 209 made quotas illegal. Lots of fairly smart black and Hispanic students were accepted into Berkeley under quotas, and then a huge fraction were quickly flunked out (Berkeley is a tough school, especially during the first two years, with huge class sizes, and many lecturers with incomprehensible accents.)

They were then replaced by graduates of community colleges who hadn't been smart enough to get into a four year college out of high school. The black and Hispanic kids who would have been smart enough to graduate from UC Davis or UC Riverside, but instead got lured into flunking out of Berkeley and UCLA, well, who knows what happened to them.

This was a ridiculous system, but it was fiercely defended by liberal politicians, who didn't care what actually happened to fairly smart black and Hispanic students after they got admitted under a quota.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Welcome to the War Zone!

One of the odder websites I've found is, "Dedicated to The Compton Police Department - in existence from 1888 until 2000." To you, Compton may be just a slum between Los Angeles and Long Beach, but to nostalgic former Compton cops, back in the day it was the Big Leagues of the Crack Wars:

The streets of Compton are considered the toughest anywhere in the United States, but the cops who worked these streets were tougher.

This site was created by the Compton Police Officers who were a part of the last 20 years of the department. A time of great turbulence - with riots, murder of police officers, the beginning of Gangster Rap and the rise and fall of Death Row Records.

Investigations of the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls both lead back to the city of Compton.

The Compton Police Officers' Association lead a fight to back the citizens of Compton against a corrupt local government. This lead to the dismantling of the Compton Police Department before the city officials themselves were voted out of office, indicted, and later jailed.

Ah, good times, good times ...

Here's part of a brief history of Compton's major exports: gangs and gangsta rap:

Black gangs were forming and calling themselves Crips and identifying by wearing the color blue. The Crip gangs also established themselves in Compton. By the early 70's to combat the Crip gangs, a new gang was formed on Piru Street in Compton, calling themselves "Bloods". The Bloods associated themselves with the color red which was the school colors of Centennial High in Compton. Compton was virtually unknown to the outside world, but Gangster rap music in the upcoming years was about to change all that.

In the early eighties, Rappers like "EASY E", "DR. DRE", "ICE CUBE", and "DJ QUICK" were nothing more than young kids growing up in the harsh streets of Compton. Snoop Dog was in North Long Beach, which is on the border of Compton, involving himself with a Crip gang... The CEO of Death Row Records Suge Marion Knight, was growing up in the streets of Compton, in an area known as "Mob Piru."

Southern California is a generous place, and it shared its gangstas and gangsta rappers with the rest of America. The Compton cop site notes:

Compton rappers began to sing songs about the street life and growing up as a gang member in Compton. They began making underground tapes, which spread like wildfire with the youth of Compton, and they loved it. These rappers would call it "Gangster Rap".[The first huge-selling gangsta rap album was NWA's "Straight Outta Compton" in 1988.]

Rock cocaine was at its height and the street gangs were out of control. Rock houses seemed to be on every street. Selling cocaine was their way of making big money, which meant better weapons. The money made by these major Compton cocaine dealers was in the millions... The mid-80s were still out of control and Compton was a battlefield with gang warfare, averaging over seventy homicides a year...

But the competition was too much, so the spread of rock cocaine made its way across the United States. The competition was not heavy there, so these cocaine dealers could raise the prices, and as a result, even more money was made with less danger to the dealers. As a result of the spread of rock cocaine across America, these Compton gang members were making their influences known. Soon these other cities and states were having drive-by shootings, drug rip-offs. The Crips and Bloods gang culture was being introduced and law enforcement agencies from these other states did not know how to deal [with] the related crime.

Similarly, USC Ph.D. student Alex Alonso wrote in a 1998 study of LA's black gangs:

During the 1980s, a number of cities reported street gang activity, with many reporting the presence of active Los Angeles-based Blood and Crip gangs. In 1988 police departments from all over the country, from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Kansas City, Missouri, to Seattle, Washington, were reporting that California gang members were extending their operations (Skolnick et al. 1993). Some of this was due to migration of gang members from Los Angeles, and some gang formation was the result of indigenous youths emulating Los Angeles gang culture, which was partly facilitated through the media and films.

The State of Florida Department of Corrections notes:

The Los Angeles (LA)-based Bloods and Crips are probably the most widely recognized gangs in America due to the media exposure received in the 1980's. These groups have migrated throughout the country and are seen in most states and their prison populations. There are literally hundreds of sets or individual gangs under the main Blood and Crip names.

Whether this spread cross country of the names Bloods and Crips is driven more by the physical migration of actual LA gangsters or by locals emulating the media-driven glamour of the LA gangs has been debated, with somewhat inconclusive results. Gang migration has sometimes been exaggerated in the media, but there's little question that the big city gangs, especially of LA, have shown the way for gangs in the rest of the country.

All this, I'm sure you'll be unsurprised to learn, reminds me of the abortion-cut-crime controversy. The econometrically-oriented have always wanted to look at crime data by state because it provides a larger data set to manipulate in a technically sophisticated fashion. That could prove useful, but I've always insisted that the rubber has to meet the road at the national level.

Dr. Levitt's correlations of abortions and subsequent crime by state would be an excellent way to examine the issue if this was a question in agronomy, such as: Does a farmer wind up with a better crop if he thins out and throws away a higher percentage of the less promising seedlings? (Which is pretty much Levitt's abortion-cut-crime theory in farm science terms.)

Levitt's technique of looking at abortion rates by state in the 1970s and 1980s and crime rates by state from 1985 through 1997 would work well if people in each state were rooted in the ground like vegetables. Human beings, however, are not plants. For one thing, they can get up and move around. People don't always stay in the states they were born in. And they can pick up influences from other states that change their behavior.

Over these decades, for example, states changed radically in ethnic makeup due to immigration, migration, different birthrates, even murder and AIDS.

This wouldn't be a disastrous problem for the validity of state-level analyses if the movement and influences were random noise unrelated to abortion and crime: it would just reduce the effect size.

Unfortunately for Levitt's analysis, nothing was random. During the years when the first generation to survive legal abortion was entering their crime-committing years, crime, the very thing he's conceiving as an effect of changes in abortion laws, was itself massively roiling the demographic and cultural landscape, driving people and ideas from high abortion states to low abortion states. It's a statistical analyst's nightmare: the thing you assume is the effect you want to explain turns out to be the cause of the not-so-random "noise" in the data.

And that hoped-for effect, crime, turns out to be correlated historically with what you were hoping to prove was its cause. It turns out that the more liberal parts of the country both had more abortions earlier in the 1970s and more of the subsequent great wave of youth violence earlier. Cause and effect or coincidence? Who knows?

The two major socially liberal states that had legalized abortion by 1970, California and New York, saw crack wars begin about 17 or so years later. They were soon exporting to more conservative states with lower abortion rates:

1. Crack gangs looking for new markets with less competition.

2. Individual dealers trying to escape arrest or death at the hands of their gang rivals (like the New York-area dealer Strike at the end of Richard Price's 1992 novel Clockers, later filmed by Spike Lee, who is fleeing south on a Greyhound bus).

3. Gangsta rap, in its West Coast and East Coast flavors, which spread the code of the crack dealer to the hinterlands.

4. Families fleeing the crack wars in Southern California and the Tri-State Area, trying to save their sons from the mean streets, but some of the sons brought their criminality with them.

A 1992 USC study of gang migration found:

Survey interviewers asked participating officers to choose from a list of reasons why most gang members moved into their cities. The most frequently cited reason was that gang members moved with their families (39 percent). When this was combined with the reason of staying with relatives and friends, 57 percent of the survey respondents believed that migrants relocated primarily for social reasons. Drug market expansion was the second most frequently cited motivation (20 percent of cities) for migrating. When this was combined with other criminal opportunities, it created a larger category of illegal attractions, or "pull" motivators, in 32 percent of cities reporting an influx of migrant gangs. "Push" motivators that forced gang members to leave cities, such as law enforcement crackdowns (8 percent), court-ordered relocation, or a desire to escape gangs, were cited in 11 percent of migrant-recipient cities.

In LA, this couldn't go on forever, and it didn't. The anarchy culminated in the vast South Central LA riot in the spring of 1992, and then, mercifully, the killing leveled off. The crack wars burnt out:

- By the early to mid 1990s in SoCal, too many of the baddest gangstas were in prison, wheelchairs, and coffins for the madness to continue unabated.

- Black families started to move out of the LA region to get away from crack, with the South, especially Atlanta, being a popular destination.

- More stable drug dealing cartels reached agreements to divide up territory peacefully, while some of the hungry young dealers left out of the cartels headed for other states to seek their fortunes.

- LA elected a Republican mayor in 1993 to bring law and order.

- The upcoming generation, born long after the legalization of abortion, began to grasp that you could listen to gangsta rap without living it. Ice Cube started to transform himself into the cuddly star of popular family movies like "Are We There Yet?"

The crack wars burnt out in the New York area too. They just couldn't go on. In NYC today, there are 36% more black women than black men alive.

But in the early 1990s, the crack wars were just getting started in the more conservative parts of the country. In the hinterlands, where abortion hadn't taken off as early in the 1970s, gang leaders moved in from LA and NYC specifically to deal crack and they found youthful foot soldiers both among kids whose parents had moved them from LA and NYC to get away from crack, and among the local kids who had been listening with growing excitement to West Coast and East Coast gangsta rap.

So, in the more conservative parts of the country, it took until the mid-to-late 1990s for the crack wars to burn out.

You can see how this history makes Levitt's state by state analyses close to hopeless. People aren't mindless vegetables stuck in one place, and the populations of states were changing year by year, both demographically and culturally. Just a few Blood or Crips moving to your city could infect your ghetto, already primed by listening to gangsta rap, with a wave of violence.

One problem I've noticed with econometrics is that its difficult to think hard about both the technical side and the human side of the question. Economists are used to dealing with topics, like foreign currency exchange rates, where they understand the human behavior reasonably well -- it's not that hard for an economist to think like a foreign currency trader -- so they can concentrate on the math. Levitt, to his credit, is trying to push economics into new areas. Unfortunately, his understanding of the human side of these areas is, well, about what you'd expect from an economist.

He's learned a lot about crime and poor people since 1999, but, unfortunately, he's chosen to defend at all costs his naive 1999 theory about abortion, even though its lack of human sophistication is blatant.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 7, 2005

Do black women have higher IQs than black men?

Thomas Sowell has been arguing for a number of years that black women score higher on IQ tests than black men:

Years ago, while doing research on education and IQ, I happened to be in the principal's office at a black school in Cincinnati, as he was preparing to open a large brown envelope containing the results of IQ tests that his students had taken. Before he opened the envelope, I offered to bet him that a large majority of the students with IQs over 110 would be girls. He was too smart to take the bet.

Studies had shown that females predominated among high-IQ blacks. One study of blacks whose IQs were 140 and up found that there were more than five times as many females as males at these levels. This is hard to explain by either heredity or environment, as those terms are usually defined, since black males and black females have the same ancestors and grow up in the same homes. Meanwhile, white males and white females have the same average IQs, with slightly more males at both the highest and lowest IQs.

This is just one of many unsolved mysteries that is likely to remain unsolved, because doing research on race and IQ has become taboo in many places. My own research was financed in part by a grant from a foundation that told me to remove any mention of IQ research from the activities listed in my project's application. They didn't care if I used their money for that purpose but they did not want it on the record that they had financed research into race and intelligence. Many schools and boards of education also did not want it on the record that they had cooperated by supplying data for any such research. Only when assured of complete anonymity would they let me into their records.

So, to test this, I asked Charles Murray to take a look at the most recent renorming of the U.S. military's IQ test that all applicants for enlistment must take, the Armed Forces Qualification Test or AFQT, and he graciously obliged, sending me some new and important data that I have not seen reported before.

(Why haven't many seen this elsewhere? The U.S. Armed Forces are both extremely committed to IQ testing of potential enlistees, which they began doing in 1917, and aware that the mainstream media blindly condemns IQ testing as racist pseudo-science. So, the military tries not to draw public attention to its enormous investment in IQ testing and research. The unfortunate side effect of the military's reticence is that this allows know-nothings to blither in the press about how IQ has been discredited.)

As Murray noted in his recent Commentary article (see Footnote 41), the previous renorming of the AFQT in 1980 now appears to have underestimated average black IQ, reporting an improbably large 18.6 point gap between the races, due to low-scoring blacks, especially black males, being more inclined to give up partway through the daunting 105 page pencil-and-paper test and not even trying to answer the remainder of the questions. To make up a fictitious illustration, a black guy who could have scored 75 if he'd toughed it out and tried to answer all the questions might get depressed by looking at so many questions he couldn't answer and give up on p. 57 and get a 65 instead.

To get around this, in the 1997 renorming of the AFQT, the test was given on a computer and if you missed a lot of the early questions, the computer would feed you easier questions to keep you from giving up. This also helps make the test more discerning by finetuning the questions more appropriate for your general level of intelligence.

This points out two sides to the old question of how much does the type of IQ test matter. In some ways, it doesn't matter that much. There's an old saying among psychometricians that "Life is an IQ test." La Griffe du Lion has shown that the roughly one standard deviation difference in IQ between blacks and whites shows up over and over again in the real world -- for example, in Florida in the famous Presidential balloting in 2000, blacks tended to botch up their ballots (e.g., by voting for two different candidates for President) and thus make them uncountable at a rate about a standard deviation higher than whites did, costing poor Al Gore the White House.

On the other hand, when attempting to make subtle comparisons such as between the sexes or to see if the racial gap is closing over time, then the fine points of the different tests matter. I only have one test to report here, but it's a big one, the AFQT, which the U.S. military has invested millions of dollars in validating over the last half century.

So, here is the data from the U.S. military's 1997 renorming of the AFQT on computers, as provided to me by Charles Murray, "using the 1997 cohort AFQT converted to an IQ metric, and employing population weights to reach nationally representative results." The renorming was done on the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, a large scale sample of people approximately aged 15-23, I believe. "White" means "non-Hispanic white."

AFQT IQ Black White Diff.
Male 88.4 102.7 14.3
Female 90.8 103.6 12.8
Diff (2.4) (0.8)

St. Dev.

Male 13.30 14.75
Female 13.58 13.30

So, at least on the AFQT, Sowell appears to be right: black women score 2.4 points higher than black men, while white women score only 0.8 points higher that white men.

Along these lines, several readers have sent me a new article about a gene variant that drives down IQ in males but not in females. (It was tested only on whites.)

Scientists in North Carolina say they have identified a gene that affects IQ, a finding that, if confirmed, would be a significant step toward understanding the genetic basis for intelligence. The new research could also have ethical implications because the effect of the gene appears to be quite dramatic: The scientists say that males who inherit a particular version of the gene have, on average, an IQ that is 20 points lower than males who don't.

It's also interesting to note that white males have significantly higher standard deviations than the other three groups. This greater variability among white males may be related to the continuing dominance of white males in Nobel Prizes and other measures of extreme right edge of the Bell Curve performance.

Perhaps the most striking aspect is the smaller white-black IQ gap than in 1980. This shrinkage is partly due to the new test format that blacks don't find so discouraging. But, as Murray said in his Commentary article, it may well also represent a genuine closing of the gap. Due to the apples vs. oranges differences in the AFQT methodologies between 1980 and 1997, we can't say for sure. But, this is something that should be tracked closely in the future.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

John Derbyshire on Baseball, Steroids, and Christmas:

More of the Derb's Christmas Classics: To the tune of "Let It Snow!":

Let Them Grow!

The steroid abuse is frightful
But the games are so delightful!
Since the ball players thrill us so —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

Now Giambi and Bonds are admitting
There's more than just skill to their hitting,
And baseball is just a freak show —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Commentary Magazine on Slezkine's The Jewish Century

Hillel Halkin grapples with the brilliant Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine's interesting but slippery Mercurian vs. Apollonian concepts, and largely leaves out the "Stalin's willing executioners" aspect of the book -- i.e., Slezkine's illuminating explanations for why many well-educated secular Jews were such enthusiastic builders of the Bolshevik tyranny, with catastrophic consequences for the world as a whole and for Jews in particular.

But, that's a glass-is-half-empty complaint, and from a half-full perspective, it's a tribute to Halkin that the book is being reviewed at all in Commentary, and in a civil fashion. (Here's an old blog entry about Halkin's article on the Cochran-Harpending theory of the evolution of Ashkenazi IQ.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 7th: "Sara Silverman: Jesus Is Magic"

I tend to walk out of stand-up comedy concert movies before they're over since they lack a plot to get me to stick around to find out what happens. But this one is only 70 minutes long, which is plenty for one comedian.

Overall: not bad.

Silverman is a good-looking lady, not exactly a beauty, but she has a nice healthy this-will-be-the-mother-of-my-children look about her, combined with a famously filthy mouth. (Generally, nubile women with dirty mouths are so horrifying-fascinating to people that the public can't tell the talented, like guitarist Liz Phair, from the lame, like the "Sex in the City" coven.)

Silverman's shtick is reminiscent of Wendy Liebman, who perfected a style where she threw away the real punchline almost under her breath:

"My mother is a ventriloquist – but not professionally. For ten years I thought the dog was telling me to kill my father." [ Waiting a beat, she adds quietly.] "I got my brother to do it."

Silverman isn't as mechanical in the format of her jokes as Liebman, but she goes for the delayed reaction detonations too:

When I was in high school, I dated my father's best friend. Now that I think back on it, it was really creepy. [Shaking her head over it.] My father having a 14-year-old best friend ...

Silverman does some race-based humor. Her persona is that she's too narcissistic to know or care that you aren't supposed to say that:

“I don’t care if you think I’m racist. I just want you to think I’m thin.”

Her best bit might be:

I got in trouble for saying the word “Ch*nk” on a talk show, a network talk show. It was in the context of a joke. Obviously. That’d be weird. That’d be a really bad career choice if it wasn’t. But, nevertheless, the president of an Asian-American watchdog group out here in Los Angeles, his name is Guy Aoki, and he was up in arms about it and he put my name in the papers calling me a racist, and it hurt. As a Jew—as a member of the Jewish community—I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media.

Unfortunately, occasionally she throws in an intentionally stupid, untrue racial stereotype ("Mexicans smell bad") so all the nice white liberals in the audience can pretend her other stereotypes ("Asians are good at math") are dumb too.

Her persona as the Evil Innocent is a good one, but she could punch up her jokes a little. Like when she goes on at some length about how weird it is that lots of Jews buy German cars, she could add:

Instead of Mercedes, they should buy Japanese cars like the Lexus. After all, what did the Japanese ever do to anyone?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Nine years in the making and still nonexistent: The new citizenship test.

Alfonso Aguilar's job is to write a test that almost everyone can pass. It isn't as easy as it sounds. Mr. Aguilar heads the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Citizenship, which the Bush administration has charged with rewriting the civics and literacy tests that immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens. As it is, 97% of those who take the civics test make it through by answering questions such as "Where is the White House located?" and "How many states are there in the Union?" A similar number -- 95% -- pass the literacy test by reading one English sentence and writing another. Last year, 418,332 people became citizens after passing those two exams. No one objects to the high pass rate. "What does the nation gain if you fail people out of citizenship?" asks Mr. Aguilar...

A higher average quality of citizen?

The project to develop a new test is already nine years old -- it predated Mr. Aguilar's appointment -- and has at least two years to go... The Department of Homeland Security, which now oversees immigration, publishes the list of questions. During the test, an examiner picks any 10; a would-be citizen must answer six correctly. To test for English competence, the examiner provides two sentences and asks the test-taker to read one and write another. The examiner can make up sentences or chose from a list of 98 possibilities the government publishes. The list includes "All people want to be free" and "He has a very big dog." ...

That reminds me of one of my favorite true news stories. The LA Times reported in August of 2004:

A chain of alternative high schools accused of selling phony diplomas has taught thousands of immigrants that ...

• There are 53 states in the United States. In addition to the "original" 50 states, the union has added Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But the flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states.

• There are four branches of government. They are the legislative, judicial, executive and "administrative" branches. Asked about the fourth branch by investigators, one teacher responded that "not much is heard about it because it works behind the scenes." The Treasury Department is part of the "administrative" branch.

• There are two houses of Congress: the Senate for Democrats and the House for Republicans.

• World War II occurred from 1938 to 1942.

• One question in the workbook says: "Read the book 'Death of a Traveling Salesman' and write a commentary."

Who runs this chain of phony high schools? Bart Simpson?

The WSJ continues:

Conservative groups fret that the test doesn't promote assimilation by teaching immigrants about American history and the workings of government. "You want a test that makes people think about what it means to be an American," says Matthew Spaulding, who studies immigration policy for the Heritage Foundation, a think tank.

The essential problem is that only intellectuals think you "promote assimilation" by making people study. Back in 2000, I wrote in VDARE on "How to Instill a Love of America:"

First, the current citizenship test reflects a schoolmarm's bias toward book-learning rather than what really motivates love of country. Neoconservative intellectuals constantly tell us that America is not a nation based on blood, but on ideological "propositions." Yet, these American "propositions" are far less exceptional today than when Abraham Lincoln defined America as "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Why should anybody be more loyal to America than to another country devoted to similarly admirable propositions - such as New Zealand?

In reality, of course, the average person's most visceral loyalties are not to words, but to the other people, living and dead, in the group to which he belongs. Soldiers sometimes enlist to defend ideals. But when the bullets are flying, they don't charge machine guns to preserve the separation of powers. They risk their lives for the other guys in their platoon.

What best builds group-cohesion is working together for a common goal. As Hollywood WWII movies loved to show, sharing a foxhole forged solidarity among mutually suspicious white ethnics. If we don't strenuously emphasize loyalty and sacrifice toward one's fellow American citizens, human beings will naturally gravitate toward promoting their racial group and class.

You can get people to bond across racial and class lines, but seldom by preaching at them. For example, UC Berkeley students are constantly exhorted about equality and interracial solidarity. But the only place on campus where black and whites students can be seen making sacrifices for each other is on the football field. Black and white college football players are far more likely to eat lunch together or listen to each other's music than are their more articulate and politically correct fellow students simply because they have to play together as a team in order to win.

Another basic law of human psychology is this: You don't get somebody to like you by doing them a favor. That only tends to build resentment over the fact that they are needy and you are not. No, you ask them to do you a favor.

Thus, I believe one way to instill a love for the American people in immigrants applying for citizenship might be to require them to put in, say, 100 hours of community service (which could be performed in six weekends). We would have to carefully control what kind of service. Allowing, say, Chinese applicants to work in Chinatown would accomplish nothing. Nor would forcing them to work among the dregs of the native-born. No, immigrant applicants must work in organizations where at least half the volunteers were American citizens and where the people served are not primarily the immigrant's own ethnic group. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A trustworthy-looking fellow

The NYT reports:

Syria Attacks U.N.'s Evidence
The investigation of [Lebanese politician] Rafik Hariri's assassination is showing cracks, with one witness dead, another in jail and a third, [right], recanting his testimony. Go to Article

And a snappy dresser, too!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 5, 2005

Levitt strikes back!

Levitt strikes back! Steven D. Levitt has responded to the Foote and Goetz paper pointing out two major errors he made in his abortion-cut-crime theory in a particularly striking way -- by introducing, at this late date, a whole new data set!

Foote and Goetz showed that Levitt arrived at his popular conclusion that abortion cut crime due to technical incompetence, and that objective analysis of Levitt's own data shows no impact of legalizing abortion on crime. So, Levitt now introduces a new data set, which he claims provides less noisy data on abortion rates by states, than the one he and Foote-Goetz worked with. Unsurprisingly, Levitt claims this new data set proves he was right all along, even though his original data said, when analyzed correctly, that he was wrong.

Is his new data set really better? Is it worse? Did Levitt botch up his analysis again? Who knows? I'm sure it will take months for objective analysts to look it over.

And is that the last word in data sets? I strongly doubt it. For example, America's most dangerous criminals were performing "selective post-natal abortions" on each other at an unprecedented clip in the gang wars of the 1990s. AIDS was also taking a toll on criminals then. Levitt hasn't adjusted for how many criminals died during this period.

Levitt likes to look at arrests for property crimes, but one of the obvious trends during the youth of the first cohort born after legalization was that property crimes were declining in payoff due to target hardening -- more locks, more alarms, more video surveillance cameras etc. In contrast, drug dealing was a booming market. In 1990, for a criminally inclined 15 year old born in 1975, it didn't make sense for him to set out to learn the craft of the thief when there were already so many experienced older thieves out there all searching for the dwindling set of soft targets to steal. No, the hot business was dealing crack, one in which older criminals weren't well established yet. That's why the homicide rate among black 14-17-year-olds born in the late 1970s was about four times as high as among black 14-17 year-olds born in the late 1960s, before legalization.

Levitt notes that something like 30% of older teens aren't living in the states where they were born. That should raise some questions about state-level analyses, especially when they don't agree with the national level analysis. If movement between states was random, that shouldn't cause too much of a problem for his methodology. But what if crime is a driving force in causing people to move?

What if, say, people in socially liberal states (that had lots of abortion earlier in the 1970s) who worried that their children were be crime-prone tended to move to socially conservative states. And what if people who ware less worried about the crime proneness of their children due to the family's affluence were more likely to move to socially liberal states? That would foul up the state-level analyses fatally if there was a steady net flow of crime prone kids to socially conservative states and a steady net flow of crime-unlikely kids to socially liberals states. I'm not saying it happened, but it might have.

But, from a marketing standpoint, in terms of preserving the value of the Freakonomics brand name, Levitt has put a marker down that his true believers can use to ward off Doubts.

We're now way, way out in how many angels can dance on the head of a pin territory. If Levitt really is explaining close to half of the huge decline in crime that occurred in the 1990s, as he has claimed, the evidence shouldn't be so fragile that it collapses when somebody else stares at it hard and Levitt has to throw away his old data and replace it with a new set of data that nobody has seen before.

When I studied marketing models in MBA school a few eons ago, the professor constantly pointed out that the true test of the statistical analyst is creating robust models. You can always fiddle with historical data and variables until you obtain a high r and a high degree of statistical significance and declare victory. But that's not a robust model and it's not much use in making real world business or policy decisions.

Economist Roehlano Briones writes on his Go Figure blog:

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is a phrase popularized by Carl Sagan - in turn derived from Hume's examination of miracles-claims. Now the original abortion-crime hypothesis is far from alleging a miracle. It is however extraordinary as it implies that causal mechanisms of crime originate from circumstances prevailing at the time of birth. Moreover, the claim that the behavior of eliminating live births is skewed against this causal mechanism (that is, abortion does not neutrally eliminate future crooks and law-abiders on a 50:50 ratio).

The issue remains, as it has since Levitt and I debated in 1999, who should have the Burden of Proof on his shoulders.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Jerry Pournelle on "Intelligent Design"

His view is similar to mine. He writes:

I do object to calling Intelligent Design "science." As I have said, it is explicitly a statement that "science" is not sufficient for understanding the world. I think that lesson in humility would be no bad thing for inclusion in our schools. We will continue to have people who are certain that the application of science is all that is needed to produce good citizens and understand the universe, but I certainly see no harm in letting everyone know that is not the universal view of the world. Science is important, and the key to power and much understanding; it may be everything; but perhaps it is not everything.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Memoirs of a Geisha"

From my upcoming American Conservative review (subscribe here) of the expensive film adaptation of Arthur Golden's bestselling novel. I offer a theory on why the Japanese spend so much money on business entertaining.

American commerce couldn't function without the salesman personality: outgoing, brash, and self-assured. Yet, Japanese corporate life carries on nicely despite a shortage of Donald Trumps.

The Japanese were among the first to develop enterprises far larger than the family firm. To induce the comfort level they needed to strike deals with people who weren't relatives, the relatively shy, sensitive, and easily shamed Japanese evolved an elaborate mode of business entertaining lubricated by food, alcohol, and expert hostesses. At banquets, geisha provided both classy entertainment in the traditional arts and light flirtation, making grouchy old businessmen feel young and optimistic again.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why are economists such blatant fools about immigration?

Economists are supposed to have a bias toward reductionism and Occam's Razor, but when it comes to using the Law of Supply and Demand to analyze the effects of immigration on the labor market, they start sounding as abstruse as String Theorists: "One might think that the Law of Supply and Demand applies to immigration, but due to an 11-dimensional wormhole in the fabric of the space-time continuum, ..."

Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub, who isn't a fool about immigration, writes:

A major piece of conventional wisdom about immigrants - that newcomers take jobs away from native Americans - has been questioned in a new study of urban job growth by a Harvard Business School professor and expert on inner city economics.

The study, in fact, seems to show just the opposite: Cities with higher concentrations of immigrants are the places where the number of jobs is growing the fastest...

But the two groups of cities differed sharply when it came to one demographic measure: immigration. Inner cities that gained jobs had populations that, on average, were 31 percent immigrant. Inner cities that lost jobs had populations that averaged just 12 percent immigrants.

"There is a direct correlation between immigrant populations and job growth in inner cities," Porter writes...

A crucial question left unanswered by Porter's study is the extent to which immigrants cause job growth or are attracted by it. If the presence of immigrants in an economy leads to more business creation and job growth, then that is a very important finding. If immigrants are merely more likely to go to a place that already has a vibrant economy, then the connection between their presence and job growth is not as significant.

"We need to examine that further," Deirdre Coyle, vice president of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, told me.

Indeed you do.

Perhaps Dr. Porter, one of the most famous business ed gurus in the country, imagines that those casinos employing immigrants in Las Vegas were started by the immigrants, and that if only Pittsburgh were full of immigrants, its steel mills would be as busy as they were in 1944.

The concept that immigrants might instead follow economic prosperity created by others, and, being almost by definition less settled than natives might be particularly mobile in their job-seeking, seems not to have occurred to him.

And, anyway, even if immigrants create jobs, how much exactly does it benefit American citizens if most of the new jobs go to their fellow immigrants?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Here come quotas to France:

Nicolas Sarkozy, Interior Minister of France, has chosen a university campus to be a “laboratory for positive discrimination.” According to Le Monde, the LĂ©onard-de-Vinci campus will become a testing ground for affirmative action, led by Richard Descoings, director of the Institute of Political Studies of Paris. Sarkozy has stepped out in a controversial act, opposed by President Jacques Chirac, to test what he believes to be a necessary step toward economic and racial equality in France.

Affirmative action is a controversial topic in France, where “Liberty, Fraternity and Equality” – the national motto and concept of Human Rights – are expected to be granted without government intervention, by colleges and employers alike. But for many, increasing unrest and last month’s riots prove that this expectation has not been a viable one without further effort. Over the last year, many media-led investigations have revealed that children of immigrants often find themselves excluded from higher education and employment alike, due to the name on their resume.

Those biased employers have somehow gotten in their heads that somebody named "Ahmed" might be the kind of fellow who sets cars on fire.

As I've said over and over again, affirmative action is much less the result of any particular ideology than of the brute fact of demographic diversity. If there are sizable groups within your country with lower average IQs, then there will emerge intense pressure to give them preferences. Similarly, although Brazil has long pushed the ideology that Brazil is a "racial democracy" where nobody notices race, quotas have started up in the last few years. In contrast, Canada, which is stridently multiculturalist in official theory, doesn't have college admission quotas because it has so few people from lower IQ ethnic groups.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Christopher Hitchens finally finds something about the Iraq Attaq he doesn't like!

In Slate, he proclaims:

This time, someone really does have to be fired. The revelation that Defense Department money, not even authorized by Congress for the purpose, has been outsourced to private interests and then used to plant stories in the Iraqi press is much more of a disgrace and a scandal than anyone seems so far to have said.

Personally, I'm more concerned about how American taxpayer money was outsourced to Hitchens' buddy, convicted conman Ahmad Chalabi, and other crooks to plant phony stories in the American press to get us into this war.

It's about time to start the Christopher Hitchens' Long Vacation Fund. The stress of turning out a bazillion words a month is getting to him...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 4, 2005

Nonscandal of the year

A lot of folks are trying to act shocked over the revelation that the U.S. has been bribing Iraqi newspapers to run pro-American stories. Here, for instance, the Washington Monthly blog approvingly quotes somebody or other getting all huffy over it:

"The payola scheme has immensely corrosive longer-term implications for media institutions, for American credibility, for building the institutions of pluralism and democracy. Most immediately it has devastating implications for the credibility of pro-American voices in the region ... Every pro-American voice in Iraq and in the region now comes under greater suspicion of having been on the take."

Oh, c'mon, this is Iraq we're talking about. I can't imagine a single Iraqi ever believed that local newspapers gave him the unbiased, disinterested truth.

I would suspect that the way Iraqis think is that if they see a lot of pro-American stories in the newspaper, that means America has lots of money to pay bribes, so maybe they ought to suck up to the Americans too so they can pocket their fair share of American bribes. But if there aren't many pro-American stories, that means the Americans must be running out of bribe money, so, who needs them?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer